Vol 53, No 2 (2015)
Original paper
Published online: 2015-06-09

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Expression of estrogen, estrogen related and androgen receptors in adrenal cortex of intact adult male and female rats

Marcin Trejter, Karol Jopek, Piotr Celichowski, Marianna Tyczewska, Ludwik K. Malendowicz, Marcin Rucinski
DOI: 10.5603/FHC.a2015.0012
Pubmed: 26122962
Folia Histochem Cytobiol 2015;53(2):133-144.


Introduction. Adrenocortical activity in various species is sensitive to androgens and estrogens. They may affect adrenal cortex growth and functioning either via central pathways (CRH and ACTH) or directly, via specific receptors expressed in the cortex and/or by interfering with adrenocortical enzymes, among them those involved in steroidogenesis. Only limited data on expression of androgen and estrogen receptors in adrenal glands are available. Therefore the present study aimed to characterize, at the level of mRNA, expression of these receptors in specific components of adrenal cortex of intact adult male and female rats.

Material and methods. Studies were performed on adult male and female (estrus) Wistar rats. Total RNA was isolated from adrenal zona glomerulosa (ZG) and fasciculate/reticularis (ZF/R). Expression of genes were evaluated by means of Affymetrix® Rat Gene 1.1 ST Array Strip and QPCR.

Results. By means of Affymetrix® Rat Gene 1.1 ST Array we examined adrenocortical sex differences in the expression of nearly 30,000 genes. All data were analyzed in relation to the adrenals of the male rats. 32 genes were differentially expressed in ZG, and 233 genes in ZF/R. In the ZG expression levels of 24 genes were lower and 8 higher in female rats. The more distinct sex differences were observed in the ZF/R, in which expression levels of 146 genes were lower and 87 genes higher in female rats. Performed analyses did not reveal sex differences in the expression levels of both androgen (AR) and estrogen (ER) receptor genes in the adrenal cortex of male and female rats. Therefore matrix data were validated by QPCR. QPCR revealed higher expression levels of AR gene both in ZG and ZF/R of male than female rats. On the other hand, QPCR did not reveal sex-related differences in the expression levels of ERα, ERβ and non-genomic GPR30 (GPER-1) receptor. Of those genes expression levels of ERα genes were the highest. In studied adrenal samples the relative expression of ERα mRNA was higher than ERβ mRNA. In adrenals of adult male and female rats expression levels of estrogen-related receptors ERRα and ERRβ were similar, and only in the ZF/R of female rats ERRγ expression levels were significantly higher than in males. We also analyzed expression profile of three isoforms of steroid 5α-reductase (Srd5a1, Srd5a2 and Srd5a3) and aromatase (Cyp19a1) and expression levels of all these genes were similar in ZG and ZF/R of male and female rats.

Conclusions. In contrast to Affymetrix microarray data QPCR revealed higher expression levels of AR gene in adrenal glands of the male rats. In adrenals of both sexes expression levels of ERa, ERb, non-genomic GPR30 (GPER-1), ERR α and ERRβ receptors were comparable. The obtained results suggest that acute steroidogenic effect of estrogens on corticosteroid secretion may be mediated by non-genomic GPR30.

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